[Photograph: Kathy YL Chan]

Freshness is key to any successful éclair ($7), and this classic pâte à choux is baked daily at François Payard Pâtisserie. Delicate and airy, the shell is split down the middle and outfitted in three components. At the bottom, a cool, whipped vanilla mascarpone cream, the richness countered with thick slices of ruby sweet strawberries. It's finished with piped ribbons of vanilla bean-accented pastry cream, full-bodied and unusually rich. There's a light citrus note to the cream that comes in the form of candied lemon peel, and this is one dessert where every element is absolutely essential.

François Payard Pâtisserie

1293 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10021 (map)

About the author: Originally from Honolulu, Kathy YL Chan blogs at Kathy YL Chan, where she chronicles her eats and travel adventures between Hawai'i, New York and beyond. She firmly believes that there is always room for dessert.

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